Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 School of Material and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 14300, Nibong Tebal, Pulau, Malaysia

2 School of material and mineral resources engineering, USM, Malaysia

3 Department of Mining Engineering, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, Quetta, Pakistan.

4 school of material and mineral resources engineering, USM, Malaysia


The significance of rock failure can be found from the fact that microfracture genesis and coalescence in the rock mass results in macroscale fractures. Rock may fail due to an increase in the local stress, natural fractures, weathering inducing micro-crack genesis, coalescence, and propagation. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the micro-scale failure mechanism of various weathering grade sandstones based on micro-level observation and microstructure-based simulation is essential. The microscale failure response of various weathering grade sandstones is studied under the wet and dry cycles. Each sample is tested for the micro-structure and micro-fracture characteristics using the image analysis. Furthermore, the micrographs obtained are also used to create the microstructure-based models, which are then simulated in the ANSYS software. The findings indicate that the moderately weathered sandstones indicate less weight reduction than the slightly weathered sandstone. The results obtained also demonstrate that the wet and dry cycles have little effect on the particle shape and size. However, variation in the particle shape and size implies that this is a result of the prevailing interaction of rock and water particle. The microscale simulation reveal that both UCS and BTS decrease from 37 MPa to 19 MPa and 9 MPa to 4 MPa as the density of the micro-structure increases. The results reveal that the primary fracture deviation from the loading axis increases with increasing density in the micro-structural micro-structures, although this effect reduces with further increasing density in the micro-structures.


[1]. Ghamgosar, M. (2017). Micromechanical and microstructural aspects affecting rock damage,‎ fracture and cutting mechanisms.
[2]. Zuo, J., J. Wang, and Y. Jiang. (2019). Macro/meso failure behavior of surrounding rock in deep roadway and its control technology. International Journal of Coal Science & Technology. 6(3): p. 301-319.
[3]. Shah, K.S., M.H.b.M. Hashim, M.Z. Emad, K.S.b. Ariffin, M. Junaid, and N.M. Khan. (2020). Effect of particle morphology on mechanical behavior of rock mass. Arabian Journal of Geosciences. 13(15): p. 1-17.
[4]. Shah, K.S., M. Mohd Hashim, and K.S. Ariffin. (2021). Monte Carlo Simulation-Based Uncertainty Integration into Rock Particle Shape Descriptor Distributions. Journal of Mining and Environment. 12(2): p. 299-311.
[5]. Ougier-Simonin, A., F. Renard, C. Boehm, and S. Vidal-Gilbert. (2016). Microfracturing and microporosity in shales. Earth-Science Reviews. 162: p. 198-226.
[6]. Shah, K.S., M. Mohd Hashim, H. Rehman, and K. Ariffin. (2021). Application of Stochastic Simulation in Assessing Effect of Particle Morphology on Fracture Characteristics of Sandstone. Journal of Mining and Environment. 12(4): p. 969-986.
[7]. Shah, K.S., M.H.B. Mohd Hashim, and K.S.B. Ariffin. (2022). Photogrammetry and Monte Carlo Simulation based statistical characterization of rock mass discontinuity parameters. International Journal of Mining and Geo-Engineering.
[8]. Zhu, Y. (2017). A micromechanics-based damage constitutive model of porous rocks. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences. 91: p. 1-6.
[9]. Stead, D. and A. Wolter. (2015). A critical review of rock slope failure mechanisms: the importance of structural geology. Journal of Structural Geology. 74: p. 1-23.
[10]. Shah, K., M. Mohd Hashim, K. Ariffin, and N. Nordin. (2020). A Preliminary Assessment of Rock Slope Stability in Tropical Climates: A Case Study at Lafarge Quarry, Perak, Malaysia. Journal of Mining and Environment. 11(3): p. 661-673.
[11]. Yang, X., J. Wang, D. Hou, C. Zhu, and M. He. (2018). Effect of dry-wet cycling on the mechanical properties of rocks: a laboratory-scale experimental study. Processes. 6(10): p. 199.
[12]. Chen, X., P. He, and Z. Qin. (2018). Damage to the microstructure and strength of altered granite under wet–dry cycles. Symmetry. 10(12): p. 716.
[13]. Yang, X., J. Wang, C. Zhu, M. He, and Y. Gao. (2019). Effect of wetting and drying cycles on microstructure of rock based on SEM. Environmental Earth Sciences. 78(6): p. 1-10.
[14]. Wang, C., W. Pei, M. Zhang, Y. Lai, and J. Dai. (2021). Multi-scale experimental investigations on the deterioration mechanism of sandstone under wetting–drying cycles. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering. 54(1): p. 429-441.
[15]. Tavallali, A. and A. Vervoort. (2010). Failure of layered sandstone under Brazilian test conditions: effect of micro-scale parameters on macro-scale behaviour. Rock mechanics and rock engineering. 43(5): p. 641-653.
[16]. Song, Z., Y. Wang, H. Konietzky, and X. Cai. (2021). Mechanical behavior of marble exposed to freeze-thaw-fatigue loading. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences. 138: p. 104648.
[17]. Jaques, D.S., E.A.G. Marques, L.C. Marcellino, M.F. Leão, E.P.S. Ferreira, and C.C. dos Santos Lemos. (2020). Changes in the physical, mineralogical and geomechanical properties of a granitic rock from weathering zones in a tropical climate. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering. 53(12): p. 5345-5370.
[18]. Tuǧrul, A. (2004). The effect of weathering on pore geometry and compressive strength of selected rock types from Turkey. Engineering geology. 75(3-4): p. 215-227.
[19]. Tating, F., R. Hack, and V. Jetten. (2015). Weathering effects on discontinuity properties in sandstone in a tropical environment: case study at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment. 74(2): p. 427-441.
[20]. Shah, K.S., M.H.B. Mohd Hashim, H. Rehman, and K.S.B. Ariffin. (2022). Weathering induced Brazilian Tensile Strength and fracture characteristics of sandstone and their prevailing mutual association. International Journal of Mining and Geo-Engineering.
[21]. Bobich, J.K., Experimental analysis of the extension to shear fracture transition in Berea Sandstone. 2005, Texas A&M University.
[22]. Erarslan, N. and D.J. Williams. (2012). Experimental, numerical and analytical studies on tensile strength of rocks. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences. 49: p. 21-30.
[23]. Song, Z., M. Li, G. Yin, P.G. Ranjith, D. Zhang, and C. Liu. (2018). Effect of intermediate principal stress on the strength, deformation, and permeability of sandstone. Energies. 11(10): p. 2694.
[24]. Mohamad, E.T., I. Komoo, K.A. Kassim, and N. Gofar. (2008). Influence of moisture content on the strength of weathered sandstone. Malaysian Journal of Civil Engineering. 20(1).
[25]. Tating, F.F., H.R.G. Hack, and V.G. Jetten. (2019). Influence of weathering-induced iron precipitation on properties of sandstone in a tropical environment. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. 52(1): p. 46-60.
[26]. Ghobadi, M. and R. Babazadeh. (2015). Experimental studies on the effects of cyclic freezing–thawing, salt crystallization, and thermal shock on the physical and mechanical characteristics of selected sandstones. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering. 48(3): p. 1001-1016.
[27]. Emeh, C. and O. Igwe. (2017). Variations in soils derived from an erodible sandstone formation and factors controlling their susceptibility to erosion and landslide. Journal of the Geological Society of India. 90(3): p. 362-370.
[28]. Yang, S.-Q., Y.-H. Huang, Y.-Y. Jiao, W. Zeng, and Q.-L. Yu. (2015). An experimental study on seepage behavior of sandstone material with different gas pressures. Acta Mechanica Sinica. 31(6): p. 837-844.
[29]. Cullers, R.L. (2000). The geochemistry of shales, siltstones and sandstones of Pennsylvanian–Permian age, Colorado, USA: implications for provenance and metamorphic studies. Lithos. 51(3): p. 181-203.
[30]. Pittman, E.D. (1979). Porosity diagenesis and productive capability of sandstone reservoirs.
[31]. Zhang, Z., Y. Shi, H. Li, and W. Jin. (2016). Experimental study on the pore structure characteristics of tight sandstone reservoirs in Upper Triassic Ordos Basin China. Energy Exploration & Exploitation. 34(3): p. 418-439.
[32]. Liu, D., W. Sun, and D. Ren. (2019). Experimental investigation of pore structure and movable fluid traits in tight sandstone. Processes. 7(3): p. 149.
[33]. Hamdi, P., D. Stead, and D. Elmo. (2015). Characterizing the influence of stress-induced microcracks on the laboratory strength and fracture development in brittle rocks using a finite-discrete element method-micro discrete fracture network FDEM-μDFN approach. Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. 7(6): p. 609-625.
[34]. Jaeger, J.C., N.G. Cook, and R. Zimmerman, Fundamentals of rock mechanics. 2009: John Wiley & Sons.
[35]. Sima, L., C. Wang, L. Wang, F. Wu, L. Ma, and Z. Wang. (2017). Effect of pore structure on the seepage characteristics of tight sandstone reservoirs: A case study of Upper Jurassic Penglaizhen Fm reservoirs in the western Sichuan Basin. Natural Gas Industry B. 4(1): p. 17-24.
[36]. Griffiths, L., M.J. Heap, T. Xu, C.-f. Chen, and P. Baud. (2017). The influence of pore geometry and orientation on the strength and stiffness of porous rock. Journal of Structural Geology. 96: p. 149-160.
[37]. Bubeck, A., R. Walker, D. Healy, M. Dobbs, and D. Holwell. (2017). Pore geometry as a control on rock strength. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 457: p. 38-48.
[38]. Germanovich, L. and A. Dyskin. (2000). Fracture mechanisms and instability of openings in compression. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences. 37(1-2): p. 263-284.
[39]. Dyskin, A. (1999). On the role of stress fluctuations in brittle fracture. International Journal of fracture. 100(1): p. 29-53.
[40]. Diederichs, M.S. (2007). The 2003 Canadian Geotechnical Colloquium: Mechanistic interpretation and practical application of damage and spalling prediction criteria for deep tunnelling. Canadian Geotechnical Journal. 44(9): p. 1082-1116.